Now in its 18th year, the annual fair returns December 5 to 8 with an expanded lineup for the expected 80,000-plus visitors. This year’s edition brings 269 leading galleries from across the world to exhibit. Of the 20 new additions, more than half come from North and South America. Art Basel Miami Beach has also spawned more than 20 satellite fairs and a bevy of glittering parties and events taking place during the week around the city.
Whether you’re a casual art aficionado or a veteran viewer, follow our guide to see, stay and play like a festival pro.
Art Basel calls the Miami Beach Convention Center home. Due to the festival’s immense popularity, we suggest buying tickets ahead of time online or at the venue. You can snag a one-day entry for $65 or opt for a permanent pass for all four days for $145. We’d splurge on the $500 premium card to enjoy extras like access to Art Basel Vernissage (an invitation-only viewing before the show officially opens), priority tour bookings, gratis entry to local museums and seating at the show’s pop-up restaurant from local favorite Joe’s Stone Crab.
If you’re traveling with tots, ask about the complimentary playroom Art Kids run by Miami Children’s Museum.
One of the best ways to navigate Art Basel, especially for first timers, is to take a guided tour. A knowledgeable expert will introduce you to the artwork, give context and answer questions. There’s also a tour option for new exhibit “Meridians” that’s worth your while if you’re interested in learning more about the large-scale works on display in the Grand Ballroom.
The Main Attraction
Seven themed sectors (Galleries, Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Survey and Magazines) sprawl across more than 500,000 square feet of exhibition space at the convention center, not to mention the 60,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom dedicated to large-scale projects.
Rather than get overwhelmed, simply browse the floorplan and map out your route ahead of time to make sure you get to everything you want to see.
While certain sectors are classics (Galleries is the anchor of the show; Survey is dedicated to art history; Nova exhibits innovative works from emerging artists), the newest collection, Meridians, is garnering the most buzz this year. Organized by Mexico City-based curator Magali Arriola, the 2019 addition presents monumental works, including large-scale sculptures, installations and performance art.
The Satellite Fairs
In addition to Art Basel Miami Beach, there are several must-see satellite fairs near the convention center and around town. A free shuttle service makes it easy to get from one to the other.
Conveniently across the street from the Miami Beach Convention Center, Design Miami is the official sister festival to Art Basel. Here, top galleries specializing in 20th- and 21st-century design present museum-quality collectibles, furniture and lighting.
In its 15th year, PULSE Art Fair will present more than 60 exhibitors of contemporary art at Indian Beach Park on Collins Avenue and 46th Street.
SCOPE Miami Beach returns to the sands of Ocean Drive and Eighth Street with 134 exhibitors pushing the envelope in the New Contemporary genre. Set within South Beach Aqua Hotel, Aqua Art Miami highlights young, emerging and mid-career artists.
Moving inland, the city’s longest-running art fair, Art Miami, celebrates its 30th anniversary at One Herald Plaza, where it will showcase work from more than 170 international contemporary galleries, including London-based Maddox Gallery and South Korea’s Gallery Tableau.
Nearby, Context Art Miami creates a space for mid-career and emerging talent to link up.
What Else To See
The Magic City’s premier art museums display some of their best works this time of year for Miami Art Week visitors. The must-visit Perez Art Museum Miami is showcasing “Teresita Fernandez: Elemental,” an acclaimed collection by the contemporary artist. Art collector and museum namesake Jorge Perez is also debuting a brand-new gallery, El Espacio 23, just in time for Miami Art Week in a 28,000-square-foot warehouse on NW 23rd Street.
Other popular spots include Institute of Contemporary Art (Yayoi Kusama’s immensely popular pumpkins will be on display), Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, The Wolfsonian, The Bass Museum of Art and HistoryMiami Museum.
Private galleries also open their doors for impressive special exhibitions, including The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, De la Cruz Collection and Rubell Museum. The latter will debut a new location in Allapattah on December 4.
The multi-use Brickell City Centre presents its annual open-to-the-public art exhibition during Miami Art Week. “Conversations with Nature,” curated by 29Rooms’ Albie Alexander, will bring the great outdoors to life with fascinating interactive installations and free programming.
Other offshoots worth perusing include the show-stopping Wynwood Walls and nearby Museum of Graffiti, a brand-new gallery opening its doors on December 5; an outdoor exhibition in Collins Park that will showcase the best of Buenos Aires’ vibrant art scene; The Art Plug Powerhouse, an experiential art fair combining interactive exhibits with artistic stunts and extreme sport feats, at The Citadel; and Instagram darling ARTECHOUSE Miami, an immersive, digital installation that offers complimentary daytime admission to Art Basel pass holders.
Hotels are also the backdrop for art installations, many of which are free and open to the public. And if the colorful showings weren’t enticing enough, the fact that every property mentioned below still had a few rooms still available at press time should be.
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Faena Hotel Miami Beach is bringing back its Faena Festival, where the entire Faena District will celebrate art of all mediums. This year’s theme is “The Last Supper.” Expect over-the-top artistry, mobile video installations, nightly screenings exploring the topic and fun culinary activations.
Four-Star Carillon Miami Wellness Resort is presenting a live-painting experience with Colombian artist Willy Ramos on December 1 to 8.
And Four-Star The Betsy-South Beach will host a lineup of nine shows across its 20,000 square feet of gallery space.
On December 3, Miami-born artist Alexander Mijares will debut a massive stained glass-inspired outdoor installation in Delano South Beach’s orchard.
Thanks to a partnership with Porsche, Four-Star Loews Miami Beach Hotel (the official host property of SCOPE Art Fair) will offer SCOPE VIP cardholders luxury shuttle service powered by the high-end car brand. A Porsche artist will be in residence at the hotel and lead a live painting workshop over the big weekend.
Eco-friendly Four-Star 1 Hotel South Beach will host an impressive installation made from 50,000 plastic bags and salvaged fish nets dubbed Rainbow Cave in the lobby bar.
East, Miami also will house a repurposed works, local artist Carlos Betancourt’s “On the Edge: The Hopeful Forest.” The collection of sculptures made from discarded items found all over Miami is arranged to mimic Brickell Avenue’s towering skyline.
Where to Wine, Dine and Have a Good Time
To be right in the action, head to MR CHOW, known as much for its theatrics as its elegantly plated Chinese fare.
For light bites and cocktails — and a breath of fresh air outside of the hustle and bustle — try BALEENkitchen at Solé Miami.
The celebrity-watching mecca Zuma Miami is a magnet for the well-heeled during Miami Art Week.
If you’re eyeing entrance to an exclusive soiree, check out rooftop bar Sugar at EAST, Miami, where a VIP cocktail party will launch the hotel’s exhibition on December 2.
For late-night fun, you have a host of options: Basement at Four-Star The Miami Beach EDITION always works, especially for after-parties; LIV nightclub at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Fontainebleau Miami Beach has a serious lineup (Lil Wayne and DJ Alesso); chic Miami club Rockwell partners with popular New York hot spot 1 OAK for a three-night pop-up that has been visited by the likes of Rick Ross, Kendall Jenner, LeBron James and Migos in the past; Broken Shaker pulls in a trendy (albeit slightly more laid-back) crowd.